In TripAdvisor reviews of the Canmore Cave Tour of Rat’s Nest Cave, parents have asked whether the Canmore Cave Tours are suitable for kids. We recently strapped on some helmets and found out what it’s like to try the Canmore Cave Tours with kids. Spoiler alert: It was pretty awesome.
What Age Do Kids Have to Be to do the Canmore Cave Tours?
To head into Rat’s Nest Cave with Canmore Cave Tours kids must be 10 years old. This will get them access to the four hour Explorer Tour that runs year-round. Kids 12 and up can also sign up for the Adventure Tour which involves repelling, some tighter squeezes, and an extra 2 hours of adventure.
What Gear Do You Need to Explore with Canmore Cave Tours?
Families traveling to Banff National Park often wonder what gear is required for the Canmore Cave Tours with kids. While almost everything is provided to you before entering the cave, I would recommend a decent pair of hiking boots.
The tour begins with a hike up to the cave opening which can take between 30-45 minutes depending on fitness level. The quality of the tread on your shoes will also greatly affect the hike. Expect some steep sections and at certain times of the year, slippery spots along the trail. Canmore Cave Tours has installed guide ropes along the hike to help kids get up to the cave site year-round.
Things You Need to Know Before Starting Your Canmore Cave Tours with Kids!
Before entering the cave I knew very little about the Canmore Cave Tours except that everyone I knew who had done it loved it. While I worried particularly about whether or not the kids would panic, I hoped that their sense of adventure would kick in to get us through.
In the end, my kids absolutely loved the tour from start to finish. They were excited enough to see the cave that the uphill hike flew by. Once we were close to the site, we stopped to put on helmets before entering the canyon leading to the cave as their excitement grew.
Before entering the cave, the kids were easily able to gear up on their own. The only help required involved making sure their harnesses were on properly. They lined up at the cave entrance and easily understood our guide’s instructions.
5 Things to Help Prepare Kids for Canmore Cave Tours
- Kids should be prepared in advance that the cave is of course dark.
- There are small rodents that live at the entrance to the cave. A mix of chinchillas and hamsters, Bushy-Tailed Woodrats are typical pack rats whose nets are visible upon entry to the cave.
- Rat’s Nest Cave can be quite cold. Dressing in layers will make your tour easier with kids. If hiking on a particularly warm day, I also advise bringing a change of socks. Sweaty socks may get very cold in the cave. Changing your kids’ socks before entering will help kids who get cold easily.
- The cave is filled with real old animal bones some of which date back 5000-7000 years. While this is one of the best features of the cave, some kids may be a little spooked by the bones. The guide does an excellent job of explaining why the bones are in the cave (no spoilers) and showing off some of the best specimens found in the cave.
- Navigating the cave is at times difficult and a little nerve-racking. Kids may be intimidated at the beginning of the tour but will quickly adjust to the activity. Kids who normally play in playgrounds and like to climb and go down slides will love this underground playground.
Canmore Cave Tours and Covid-19
For families visiting Banff during COVID, there may be questions on whether Canmore Cave Tours are open and what precautions are being taken. Yes, the tours are currently running (as of June 2020). Here is a list of the precautions we noticed on our tour.
- The Canmore Cave Tours are currently limited to individual families or private groups of families who book together.
- All guests and staff must complete a COVID screening which includes a touchless thermometer temperature check upon arrival. Guests who arrive with an elevated temperature will not be taken on the tour.
- Group sizes are currently limited to 6.
- Gloves worn during the tour are given to guests to keep and are not being reused.
- All equipment is being sanitized as always between uses.
- Guests must maintain a physical distance of 2 meters from the guide and masks must be worn inside the cave. Masks can be brought by guests and are also being provided by Canmore Cave Tours.
Would I Recommend Canmore Cave Tours for Kids?
Without a doubt, Canmore Cave Tours is one of the best activities we have done as a family. I loved watching the kids garner the courage to head down the steep entry to the cave and begin exploring their surroundings. They at no time complained of any physical exertion, fear, or cold. This is a truly unique experience and the guides are well prepared to help kids and answer even the most out-there questions. I literally had to drag my kids out of the cave whose only complaint was that the four-hour tour flew by too quickly. Next up will be taking my 12-year-old back for the adventure tour. As soon as I muster up some courage.